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INDIANAPOLIS–AT&T workers want a contract. Workers marched at the AT&T building in downtown Indianapolis Tuesday. They chanted, held up signs like, “WTF AT$T”, and repeated slogans like “Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go.”

“AT&T is outsourcing jobs to other countries and refusing to give us a contract that we can live with,” said Chris Shelton, international president of the Communications Workers of America. “They’re just shipping jobs overseas in wheelbarrows.”

The march was against the backdrop of the Trump tax cuts, after which AT&T promised their workers would see financial benefit.

“They promised during the tax cuts, that if they got the tax cut, that they would hire 7,000 people,” said Shelton. “Instead of hiring 7,000 people, they laid of 7,000 people.”


Shelton acknowledged that no call centers had been closed in Indiana. But, he said that not having any workers in the Hoosier call centers doesn’t work either.

“I don’t think there’s been any call centers closed, but what they’re doing is they’re clearing them out. They’re laying off people so that there’s very small numbers in all of the call centers.”

The union claims AT&T is getting a $20 billion benefit from the tax cut that should go to benefit workers instead of workers being laid off. CWA says workers have been without a contract since April 2014.

Statement from AT&T on CWA comments:

We’ve chosen to hire about 87,000 people in the U.S. in the last three years alone, plus over 8,000 so far this year. And we’re currently looking to hire thousands more this year. In Indiana we hired over 180 in 2017, over 140 so far this year, and we’re currently hiring about 30 more. 

At the same time, technology improvements are driving higher efficiencies and there are some areas where demand for our legacy services continues to decline, and we must sometimes adjust our workforce in some of those areas. Most of our union-represented employees have a job offer guarantee that ensures they are offered another job with the company if their current job is eliminated. 

Over the past five years (2013-2017), AT&T’s total investment in the United States, including capital investment and acquisitions of spectrum and wireless operations, was over $135 billion — more than any other public company.

Setting the record straight on AT&T and tax reform:

  • What we’ve said is that AT&T plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the U.S. this year as a result of tax reform, and that research shows that every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 good-paying jobs for American workers, across the broader economy. And that remains true. You can also check Page 5 of our Annual Report.

We have hired over 8,000 employees in the U.S. so far this year and we are hiring thousands more. As I mentioned, that includes over 140 hired in Indiana so far this year, and we’re currently hiring about 30 more. Again, that’s in addition to over 180 hired in the state in 2017. 

In addition to announcing plans for that additional $1 billion in investment, the company did this:

  • Late last year, with tax reform in mind, we paid a special $1,000 bonus to our U.S. employees — all of our union-represented employees, non-management employees and front-line managers – totaling $200 million.
  • Also benefitting current and former employees, we invested $800 million toward our employee and retiree medical trust.
  • And we invested nearly $100 million in our AT&T charitable foundation.

PHOTOS: Chris Davis/Emmis